Updated: Aug 14
Celebrating a New Year while discovering beautiful cities sounds like a great idea! And it is time to plan where to go for a New Year to spend an unforgettable holidays.
What will be the street celebrations of the New Year in Europe? What to expect, to visit and to try on New Year in different cities? I will be glad to share my experiences and impressions of celebrating the New Year in Europe.
A good year beginning makes the whole year good! So we have decided to start our 2018 year with adventure. We bought tickets for a four-day bus tour. The rout was:
Lviv > Krakow > Prague > Vienna > Budapest > Kyiv
It was our only trip where we used the services of a travel company. Usually we prefer to plan the trips by ourselves. However, bus tours have their advantages such as you do not worry about planning a route, about insurance, about transportation and accommodation. There is no such freedom of choice as when you are planning a trip by yourself. But still, it is pretty convenient, especially on the New Year holidays, when everything is already booked.
Another plus of the bus tours is the ability to see lots of interesting new cities for a pretty small price. It costed us about €160 for two people. And we spent about €200 on expenses (gifts, souvenirs, meals etc).
Discover in this article ideas of how and where to celebrate a New Year, what to expect and useful tips to get an unforgettable experience.
New Year in Krakow
The city center of Krakow looks beautiful. The square is decorated with fairy lights and a nice Christmas tree. Usually there is a stage with live performances which adds a festive atmosphere.
Best things to do in New Year's Krakow:
✔ Enjoy walking in the old city
✔ Listen to the St. Mary's trumpet-call which is played every hour
✔ Try a variety of Polish dishes and warm up with mulled wine in the Christmas markets, which are located on the Main Market Square and the Old Town’s center
✔ Check Krakow Christmas tree
✔ Join celebration party
On the New Year's Eve in Krakow everyone will be able to find something for themselves. Usually there are free of charge events and mass celebrations. Traditionally, the biggest one goes on in Rynek Glowny central square. Just check the start time in advance and get ready for the biggest party in the city.
In addition to the street entertainment, every night club in the city plans the New Year’s Eve party, restaurants and pubs in Krakow organize improvised dance floor and some live performance, Krakow hotels often organize a party on their premises. Most of the tickets are sold out by the beginning of December, so if you would like to make a reservation, start seeking for the tickets already in November.
On the New Year's Eve in Krakow there won't be any firework display, however the city offers an incredible lasers and lights show at midnight!
Winters can be unpredictable and it's good to be prepared for all occasions. However, to understand what to presume here is the weather at New Year's Eve in Krakow for the last three years:
Despite the fact that we spent in Krakow just few hours, we managed to complete the minimum mandatory program of the tourist for the New Year. We had a nice tour around the old city, tried some food on the Christmas market and just get into the atmosphere of the city. For me the New Year in Krakow is really cozy.
New Year in Prague
Prague looks gorgeous, especially on the New Year's Eve. Here you can find lots of entertainment for tourists.
Best things to do in New Year's Prague:
✔ Try one of the most common local pastries
✔ Visit beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral
✔ Walk across the Charles Bridge
✔ Watch show of Prague chimes which takes place hourly from 9:00 to 23:00
✔ Walk along the narrowest street of Prague Vinárna Čertovk, the width of which is only 70 cm and two people cannot pass along it at the same time, that's why the traffic light is installed
✔ Visit Vytopna Railway Restaurant where drinks are served on the train which travels on rails through the tables right to you
✔ Buy some souvenirs in the biggest and oldest Prague Christmas Market located on the Old Town Square
✔ Make a photo with the Christmas tree on the Old Town Square
✔ Watch swans near the Franz Kafka Museum
On the 31 of December you will be able to watch plenty of fireworks across town arranged by locals. Note, that the official firework of the city happens on January 1 at 18:00 at Letna Park. One of the best spots to watch the fireworks are at the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge and on the banks of the river facing Letna Park.
In addition to the street entertainment, you can also celebrate the New Year at a river-party, where you can find some of the most spectacular views of Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. Restaurants, clubs and bars in Prague fill up fast especially on holidays. So all venues require reservations in advance for a place to spend the evening.
To understand what to expect, the weather at New Year's Eve in Prague for the last three years:
New Year Prague impressed us very much. We really liked the sightseeing tour, all main attractions within walking distance. The city is incredibly photogenic, I've couldn't stop making photos here. And need to mention, that the Prague Christmas tree was stunning. This city definitely has the holiday spirit!
New Year in Vienna
New Year Vienna creates a romantic atmosphere everywhere. Festive lights adorn the streets with a beautiful and well-kept ancient architecture.
Best things to do in New Year's Vienna:
✔ Try Sachertorte at the Cafe Sacher Wien
✔ Drink a cup of Wiener Melange in the Central Cafe
✔ Explore Vienna attractions at your own pace, walk along historic squares and see the city illuminated
✔ Visit the Christmas market on Maria-Theresien-Platz and the Schönbrunn Christmas market
✔ Make a photo with the main Christmas tree
Austrians are very hardworking, but on holiday most of them prefer going to the mountains to celebrate the New Year with their loved ones. As a result, the majority of those who celebrate the New Year under
the main Christmas tree are tourists.
On the 31 of December many shops, restaurants and sights close early, about at 3 pm. Only some popular places are open, such as a famous Cafe Central or a restaurant in the Sacher hotel, as well as fast foods.
Get ready for crowds on the main streets of the city and long queues at popular places such as Cafe Central.
From free entertainment you can find temporary stages with DJs and live music. You can join the waltz class which Viennese ballroom dancing schools offered on the Graben pedestrianized zone. Or watch opera highlights on a big screen outside the State Opera House.
Besides street celebrations, you may enjoy the best classical music scene in Vienna’s various concert halls. Unique New Year's atmosphere can also be enjoyed on a boat trip along the Danube river. And it would be an incredible idea to attend the New Year’s Eve Ball at the Imperial Palace or the New Year galas.
Finally, majority of people gather to meet the New Year in one of two places:
On the Stephansplatz square to hear the cathedral's midnight chimes
In front of the Rathaus town hall to join a grand city-wide party
At midnight on the Rathausplatz square you will be able to take delight of watching the fireworks and join people dancing the waltz on the Stephansplatz square.
Be prepared to meet the New Year! Here is the weather at New Year's Eve in Vienna for the last three years:
For us it was nice just to walk and enjoy the city. It is an aesthetic pleasure wherever you look. New Year in Vienna is quite romantic, especially when everyone dances a waltz under a Christmas tree.
New Year in Budapest
Budapest is a beautiful and ancient city with its own charm. It is definitely worth to visit one day. Why not go to see Budapest for the New Year?
✔ View the panorama from the Fisherman’s Bastion
✔ Visit the Buda Castle
✔ Make a photo in front of Hungarian Parliament, which we can name as one of the most beautiful buildings that we saw during our trip
✔ Enjoy a majestic classical concert in the Stephen's Cathedral
✔ Plan the party in the Budapest Bath Party in Szechenyi Baths with thermal water
✔ Come and explore Christmas Markets in Budapest
✔ Check the main Christmas tree
The most live areas on the New Year usually are the Vorosmarty Square, Nyugati tér, Danube Promenade and Oktogon. A Budapest Christmas market is located in the heart of the city on Vorosmarty Square where people are celebrating New Year’s Eve. Traditionally fireworks are released over the Danube at midnight.
Besides street celebrations, Budapest New Year is full of parties. There are lots of events such as street parties, various concerts, cruises on the Danube or celebrations in hundreds of restaurants and bars. Restaurants in Budapest on New Year's Eve usually offer live entertainment, especially in the more popular places of the city.
Check the weather at New Year's Eve in Budapest for the last three years to be prepared:
Budapest is a great city. Majority of attractions within walking distance. The atmosphere in the city is really friendly.
New Year in Lviv
Lviv is a city to have a lot of fun. You can not even imagine how much fun it is to celebrate a New year here! Just get into the atmosphere of the city and enjoy.
✔ Visit Christmas markets which are traditionally located on the Svobody avenue and the Runok Square
✔ Admire the city from the observation deck at Town Hall
✔ Try some local holiday treats such as Galician strudel, sausages, uzvar, varenuky, chocolate lard and lot more
✔ Take a photo of the main Lviv’s Christmas tree which is traditionally located near the Opera theater
✔ Visit Lviv Opera
Lviv offers lots of entertainment, such as open-air music festival, different gastronomic celebration, Christmas skating rink located at the Rynok Square, restaurants and bars plan great New Year's entertainment programs. By the way, Lviv restaurants and bars deserve a separate tour, such unusual and themed they are.
In order to prepare here is the weather at New Year's Eve in Lviv for the last three years:
Lviv is a beautiful city and always leaves cheerful memories of hanging out in it. The people here know how to have fun. I love visiting Lviv in all seasons, however on New Year's Eve it is really fabulous in a special way!
New Year in Kyiv
And of course, I cannot skip my hometown of Kyiv. On New Year's Eve the central streets of Kyiv are festively decorated, you can attend various New Year's entertainment and take a photo with Ded Moroz (that is how we call here Santa Claus).
✔ Try national dishes and drinks on Christmas Markets
✔ Make a photo of a shining Christmas tree
✔ Visit festival “Winter Country on VDNKh”
✔ Check the city’s most famous sights, such as Andriyivskyy Descent, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, St. Nicholas Cathedral, Golden Gate, St Andrew's Church and many other beautiful places
✔ Take part in a holiday activities
When new Year is coming, visiting Christmas markets and exhibitions is a must to do. Traditional folk festivities take place in the city center. Main Christmas tree and Christmas market is located on
Sofiyska square decorated with lots of bright garlands. There will be a stage for music concerts, food courts and souvenir shops. In addition, there are lots of entertainment for children, like railway trains, slides and other play areas.
Also, a very beautiful and festive location will be on Kontraktova square decorated with high Christmas tree and nice photo areas. Take a walk along the Petro Sagaydachny street to the funicular, enjoy the show of numerous artists, try street food and hot drinks at the Christmas market.
Throughout the New Year and Christmas period, the festival “Winter Country on VDNKh” usually takes place on the territory of the Expocenter of Ukraine. You can visit the Christmas market, exhibitions in the pavilions, take part in different activities that will be held near the Christmas tree.
Restaurants and bars in Kyiv also organize New Year's parties and entertainment programs, however, places need to be reserved in advance, and quite often a prepayment for reservation for the New Year is required.
Dress warmly, because the weather at New Year's Eve in Kyiv for the last three years have been:
For me the New Year in Kyiv is a cozy home holiday, which I usually spend with my family and close friends. Kyiv always glad to welcome new guests and I wish you an unforgettable New Year celebration in this wonderful city!
Useful Tips for a Great New Year Celebration in Europe
So have you already decided that you want to celebrate the New Year in a new place and get an unforgettable experience? This trip definitely will be an incredibly eventful and memorable adventure. If you have already chosen a city to meet a New Year, or decided to arrange the European New Year tour, do not forget to prepare in advance!
Here are some useful tips to prepare for New Year celebration in Europe:
✔ Check the public transport system holiday timetables
✔ Book accommodation, activities and tickets in advance
✔ Check dates and open hours of the Christmas markets
✔ Check the weather forecast a few days prior to your trip
✔ Take some extra piece of clothing for different weather conditions
✔ Have a plan for the midnight
As for me, the New Year tour in Europe was an unforgettable holiday adventure! Each city has left a special memory. Especially Prague, which has exceeded my expectations. The city was so festive and beautiful. The New Year spirit is definitely there.
I book hotels through Airbnb or Booking. Usually I check reviews on TripAdvisor and try to find best choices with 4 or 5 rating. There you can compare prices on different resources and directly go to the site you liked to book a hotel.
Do not forget to follow my Instagram where I also share my travel experience.
Wish you to have a great New Year wherever you go! Celebrate, enjoy and have fun!